“Last year my roommate (roomie #1) and I got along so well we decided to live together again this year. We also asked one of my friends (roomies #2) to live with us. Now, roomie #1 is always copied up in her room while roomie #2 and I are getting along perfectly. We have people over, we cook together, shop together, and work out together.
I just really don’t know what to do about roomie #1. We used to be such good friends and now I have to beg her to talk to me. When I ask her if something is wrong, she is super short.”
Sadly, this happens a lot. Three girls can be tricky–whether it’s three close friends or three roommates, often someone feels left out.
One of two things is going on with your Roomie 1.
Option 1: She is feeling left out & her feelings are hurt.
This is more than likely what is going on. You lived together last year, loved each other, decided to live again together this year but the addition of your friend/roomie 2 complicated things. Regardless of your intentions or actual behavior, she feels slighted. She thinks you like your roomie 2 better than her and it hurts her feelings.
Option 2: Something much bigger is going on.
Depression, homesickness, anxiety, family issues… something else much bigger than your friendship-dynamics is going on. When people hide in their rooms and retreat from their friends and family, it is a huge red flag that something deep, emotional/psychological is going on.
A good indicator of whether it’s Option 1 or 2 is if she is engaging with other people. Has she just shut you out or has she shut everyone out? If she has shut everyone out, it’s definitely a much bigger issue than just having her feelings hurt with the addition of your roomie 2. If it is just you, then you know it’s Option 1.
So what’s a girl to do?
1. You’re going to show care & concern. Next time she is home, cooped up in her room, knock on her door and ask if you can come in and talk for a few minutes. Get on her level. (literally) If she is sitting on her bed, sit on a chair (or on her bed if she’s okay with that!) to be eye level with her. Or sit on the floor. What you don’t want to do is stand up, looking down on her, while you’re talking.
2. Start with Option 1. Start by telling her you’ve noticed her behavior (give specific examples… “I’ve noticed you’re always in your room, not talking to me, not wanting to hang out, etc.” This isn’t to be accusatory; this is to show you are paying attention and see her.) Tell her you feel like you’ve lost her as a friend and ask if there was something you did that hurt her feelings. It may take a few promptings from you to get her to talk, but reiterate over and over that you didn’t intend to hurt her and you’d really like to know if there was something you did so that you can fix it.
3. If she says no…. you can’t force her to talk. Again, reiterate that you miss her and want your friend back! Tell her that you are concerned about her. Tell her that if she decides there is something she wants to address with you, to let you know. Tell her that you are going to go out of your way to make sure she knows she is invited (to cook, hang out, work out, etc.) anytime you are doing something with your other roomie. (Oh btw, you have to then DO THAT. So don’t tell her that if you don’t plan on following through!)
4. Ask if anything else is going on. It might just be Option 2. If it is, give her an opportunity to tell you about it. “Is there anything else going on? It just seems like you are very different this year… is everything okay?” Again, you can’t force her to talk and she might now, but the goal is for you to express you care about her, are concerned about her, and are willing to listen and talk whenever she desires.
5. If it’s looking more and more like Option 2, consider pulling in another friend of hers that she trusts and will listen to. Sometimes we have to surround people from all sides to get them to admit they need help. Find out if your school offers free counseling or how to go about seeing a counselor and have that option in your back pocket if/when she is ready. Offer to walk with her to the counseling center her first appointment. Sit in the waiting room with her. If she really is struggling with something major and you communicate your care and concern– she will eventually feel safe enough to let you in. Then you just have to be a supportive friend!
However, until she is ready to communicate with you, there is nothing more you can do. So, do your part by sitting down with her and trying to talk it out, but then it’s up to her. Whether option 1 or 2, she has to come to a place where she is willing to be open and honest. Show you care about her and want to fix your relationship or help her and see what that takes you.